The last time I remember getting any type of clothes made was when I was 12. My mom made my sister and I matching red pea-coats for Christmas with a matching red barrette. I felt like a classy little 12 year old ready to take Paris by storm, but of course this was in Los Angeles. Years later, when I found myself in Vietnam, I didn’t realize that in the ancient city of Hoi An the thing to do is to have a whole new wardrobe made from scratch. I met a lot of Aussies who look forward to coming to Hoi An to get outfits made so when I arrived I scoured Pinterest and my favorite shops for outfits I wanted to have made. Unfortunately I’m extremely picky and indecisive, but I was finally able to get two dresses made.
How to Choose a Tailor
Ha Noi is known for its colorful lanterns and ancient city, but also for its tailors and shoemakers and quite frankly, they really are quite good. There are several shops you can visit to have clothes made and I recommend going with one that makes you feel comfortable and not feel pushed to have something made when you really just want to browse. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable event, but you’re likely to be swayed to enter a shop at least two or three times and it’s fine because it may be the best move your closet has ever experienced.
While we were in Hoi An, we went with two different tailors and I recommend them both, Gia Hung and Cloth Shop Su. You’re probably thinking, well if the first one was so great then why did you have more clothes made with someone else. After I had my first dress made I did not plan to have anything else made, but after walking around Historic Hoi An the next day, we saw fabric we really liked in another shop so we had another consultation and had some more garments made.
If you’re having a difficult time choosing the right shop for you, you can always refer to TripAdvisor. Both the shops we went with had lots of positive reviews from satisfied clients. There are also photos of what they had made so you can get an idea of which shop you might feel more comfortable with.
Though we went with two, it is a better move to stick with one to get better prices based on the amount of items you’re having made.
Tips for Having Clothes Made
You can literally have anything made in Hoi An, any design, any style, any occasion. If you’re going to bring a photo of the outfit you want made, make sure that all the details you want included are zoomed in enough so that it is clearly visible and that different angles of the dress are shown. All of the shops are equipped with WiFi and iPads so you can always send a link of the clothing item if it will be clearer than a printed photo.
If you want something remade, like a dress or pair of pants you already own, bring it in and they will remake the same cut and style.
Guys…every guy needs a nicely fitted suit for an occasion sometime or another. In Hoi An, you can have one made for under $150 and you will not be disappointed.
Yes, you can bargain!
You can bargain anywhere in Vietnam and that includes when having clothes made. The base price for most items are $20. You can have a gown made for your friend’s wedding for about $40, a business dress for $25-$30, a blazer for $20, a thick wool winter coat for $60, or a suite for about $150. The more you do buy, the more you can bring down the price too, and never be the first to set a price. Simply ask, how much for a _______ with ______ type of material and then go from there.
Just because you have discussed the material and the style you want and maybe even measured, DO NOT feel obligated to commit to the tailor if the price is set too high. Seriously consider the real value of the garment. I almost had a midi skirt made that can be easily found at Forever 21 for $20, and the tailor would not quote me less than $40, so I said no thank you and went to the next shop. A tailor confessed to me that they do charge more if they feel like the person has more money versus someone who is a budget traveler and may be volunteering, sorry, but I don’t have $40 for a plain skirt. So don’t get suckered into believing that you’re getting a good deal, if you know you’re not.
How long does it take
The time length of the first consultation depends on how decisive you are with what you want made and whether you and your tailor understand what you want, but it should not take more than an hour. Once you have been measured, your garment will most definitely be ready by the next day for you to get fitted. If alterations are needed then you usually can come back in a few hours to pick up the finished piece.
How are the clothes made so fast, you ask?
The truth of the matter is that all the dress shops are partnered with sew shops…err…sweat shops…work shops? I honestly don’t know what to call them, but throughout Hoi An, if you walk in different neighborhoods you will come across several shops set up with seamstresses sewing garments ordered from the dress shops. I don’t believe for a second these are the typical sweat shops that we hate to believe are department store clothes are made in, but they are large rooms with 5-10 people sewing clothes and it’s hot in there.
The seamstresses who are actually making your garments are exceptionally talented. For one the turnover is ridiculously fast which shows how hard they are willing to work. Two, they come up with a perfect pattern based off a photo and measurements and the results tend to be an exact match.
So if you have several clothing items ordered, be socially conscious and don’t expect, demand or ask that your clothes be made bright and early the next morning. If you are in hurry, get to the tailors early for your consultation so there is at least 24 hours to have the item(s) made and if alterations need to be made they’re made in a timely manner.
If you’re not happy with your new clothes, you can have them altered until you’re satisfied, but be reasonable and make sure you are clear with what you want. Maybe the fabric isn’t the ideal one for the cut and look you wanted. If it’s not perfect, then it’s not the end of the world. Generally, most people I spoke to, including based on my own experience have been pretty pleased with the new threads they had made. I love my new dresses and have already worn them and like I said, my only regret was not having shoes made!
Have you ever had any clothes made for a special occasion? Ever gone shopping in Hoi An?
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